03 May What Are the Methods Used to Collect Accounts Receivable?
Accounts Receivable are much more than monies owed to a dental practice. How a practice chooses to handle its A/R will have a big impact on its relationship with patients, as well as with staff, who might feel anxious about making collection calls, and clinicians, who would rather practice dentistry than business management.
But back to patients. As A/R industry-leader Andy Cleveland, says, “Right along with receiving outstanding payments, A/R has to keep the patient whole. It has to help them meet their financial obligations and still feel good about coming back for their next visit, to stay on track with their treatment plan. A/R is all about collaborating and bringing people together to do the right thing.”
Accepted industry best practices show that maintaining relationships while keeping the hard facts in focus is super-challenging:
- Practices only have a 15% to 25% chance of collecting accounts once they are past due for more than 90 days
- 10% or less of a practice’s A/R should be more than 60 days past due
- 3% or less of a practice’s A/R should be past 90 days due
It’s also important to keep in mind that all A/R is not the same. There’s Patient A/R and Insurance A/R.
To quote Andy Cleveland again (no surprise he’s known as the Dental Accounts Receivable Ninja), “Successful patient A/R has to motivate payment while enhancing long-term relationships.” Andy also emphasizes that a dental practice is more than an office. “You’re part of a community. You go to the same Walmart, the same churches, the same soccer games. Facilitating the practice’s identity as a positive and compassionate member of the community is a part of A/R that’s as important to get right as it is easy to mismanage.”
So how does a dental practice get all the parts right? Let’s look at the insurance side of A/R first.
The necessary skills for getting timely payments from insurance companies include being current on all procedure and payment codes, aware of constantly-changing fee schedules, knowing the comprehensive documentation necessary for clean claims, the nuances of denial management, the procedures for open claims investigations, report generation, data merge, and more.
If staff is dealing with both kinds of A/R, they’re probably under-trained in one or the other.
More important, as Andy will tell any of his more than two hundred and forty A/R clients, “Doing the insurance internally does nothing to enhance the patient relationship. It does not add any value to the patient experience or the quality of care. There’s no practical value for doing it internally.”
Add to that how staff feels about trying to tackle insurance payments. “The last thing they want to do with their life is learn anything about how insurance companies operate. They’d much rather be calling a patient saying, ‘We have an amazing new treatment plan for implants, and can we get you scheduled for that?’ The insurance piece has to be handled at the professional level.”
Outsourcing with partner A/R professionals: covering a practice on both sides of the A/R equation.
“The key is awareness,” Andy says. “First, a practice has to understand that even if I’m helping on the patient side, they could be doing better on the insurance side.”
This is where the A/R Ninja suits up with a professional-grade resource like Medusind, well-known experts in insurance A/R.
“I work with Medusind,” Andy says, “because they’ve been insurance A/R leaders for more than 20 years. Their teams know how to build a clean claim. How to appeal a denied claim. They know about insurance verification. They know the different fee schedules. And they work with an office’s existing software and protocols, so there’s no retraining, and the office is still in charge.
Our services complement each other so practices have all their A/R bases covered. It’s why we help so many practices increase revenue and improve efficiency, while keeping them focused on their patients.”
Communicate. Respect. Repeat
One last Andy quote sums it up. “Dental A/R is challenging but it runs on a simple premise: people like to do business with people they trust. People they like. Especially in dentistry.
Andy Cleveland, “The Dental Collections Ninja,” a member of The Academy Of Dental Management Consultants (ADMC) and the American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM), has specialized in the Revenue Cycle space in the dental industry for more than a quarter of a centuryTo learn more, get contact information and, even schedule a meeting please go to www.andycleveland.com